Voting Rights Campaign

We focus on voter education and voter registration so people on probation and off parole will know they have the right to vote in California. We are working to guarantee that people inside the jails know that many of them also have the right to vote. We are continually confronting legislative and legal challenges that threaten the voting rights of formerly-incarcerated people.

Ultimately, All Of Us Or None would like to see the rights of everyone inside any correctional institution and on parole in California and all 50 states restored.

Check out the work we’ve done so far below!

ALL OF US OR NONE VOTING RIGHTS TIMELINE

2000 – Formerly Incarcerated People begin a dialogue about our extensive disenfranchisement, spurred on by the 2000 presidential election, where our voting rights were contested and legally stolen.

2003 – Formerly incarcerated leaders form AOUON and include voting rights in their top three priorities

2004 – In early 2004, LSPC and All Of Us Or None contacted the ACLU raising our concerns that people housed in different county jails throughout the state of California did not have uniform access to their right to vote.

In July LSPC sent a letter to the Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, requesting clarification of the law regarding the right of county jail prisoners to vote. Shelley affirmed our interpretation: that people in county jail for a felony and people on probation had the right to vote.

All Of Us Or None and the ACLU form a partnership on the voting rights issue because of the ACLU’s long history of fighting for the civil rights of disadvantaged people and their ongoing efforts to secure the right to vote for formerly-incarcerated people.

The ACLU polls the county jails statewide to determine the different practices through the state, with the help of All Of Us Or None.

2005 – LSPC, the League of Women Voters, and the ACLU file a lawsuit against the California Secretary of State, and win. The McPherson vs. Davis ruling clarifies that people in prison and on parole cannot vote; whereas people in county jail for felonies, on probation, and off parole can all vote.

2006 – ACLU launches public education campaign in partnership with probation offices, public libraries and community-based organizations throughout northern and central California to inform people with felony convictions they have the right to vote if they are off parole, on probation or have completed probation. All but one of the images in the campaign feature prominent AOUON activists, but the AOUON name was not mentioned in any of the materials for the campaign. This would have been helpful both in terms of resources for our future work as well as in raising awareness about formerly incarcerated organizers.

2007 – LSPC and The Center for Children of Incarcerated Parents file a class action suit to extend voting rights to people on parole. The California Supreme Court ruled that voting rights do not extend to people on parole.

2008 – AOUON writes to all county sheriffs inquiring about their voting policies for county jails, and also send packages of information to every Public Defender in the state, requesting they inform their clients how a guilty plea might affect their voting rights.

In June AOUON meets with the Secretary of State to ask what measures she had taken to guarantee the right of county jail prisoners to vote. After initially ignoring our requests to meet, she finally responded to a delegation of formerly incarcerated organizers doing an informational picket outside her Sacramento office.

In August of 2008, AOUON holds a National Day of Action for Jail and Prison Voting Rights, to raise awareness of voting rights for people with past convictions, people on probation and parole, and prisoners in county jails.

2009 – AOUON was instrumental in resisting punitive legislative bills and a ballot measure (Vote SAFE) that would have mandated ID requirements for voters and eliminated the right to vote for people on probation. AOUON sent contingents to Sacramento to testify at multiple hearings, wrote letters, and engaged in public education. Both bills and ballot initiative were soundly defeated.

Delegation members Anita Wills (CA), Steve Huerta (TX) and Fanya Baruti(LA) in Pittsburgh during the 2012 election

2012 – ACLU and co-counsel Social Justice Law Project file a Writ of Mandate with LSPC and AOUON among the named petitioners. This writ challenged the Attorney General’s denial of the right to vote to county jail prisoners. The letter to Kevin Shelley was included as evidence. We won this case.

In March 2012, we filed All of Us or None v. Debra Bowen. In this lawsuit, we challenged
the Secretary of State’s theft of the votes of 85,000 eligible voters locked up under supervision of the probation departments, in county jails across California.  Unfortunately, the courts denied our case without a hearing.

During the last weeks of the 2012 election a delegation of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People’s Movement traveled to Pennsylvania a state that has been hard hit by voter ID laws and other voter suppression tactics. LSPC Executive Director, Dorsey Nunn reflected on the experience in this essay By the Way President Obama, We Have to Fix This Too: Voting is a Right Not a Privilege

2014 – In February LSPC joined in filing a voting rights lawsuit against the Secretary of State,Scott et al v. Bowen. Our case argues that it’s wrong to deny voting rights to people on post-release community supervision and mandatory supervision after their release, because the California Constitution says that only people imprisoned or on parole are not allowed to vote.

AOUON is an organizational plaintiff in the case along with the League of Women Voters of California, and individual plaintiffs include LSPC Executive Director Dorsey Nunn and LSPC Board Of Directors Member George Galvis. The ACLU of California and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights are co-counsel with LSPC.

In May an Alameda county judge ruled in favor of LSPC’s voting rights lawsuit (filed with the ACLU and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights). Secretary of State Bowen filed an appeal.

2015 – In August, Secretary of State Padilla announced he would withdraw the appeal in Scott et al v. Bowen, giving a delayed but important victory and restoring voting rights for 60,000 formerly incarcerated Californians. Read our page announcing this victory and our press release.